TORONTO (Horizon Weekly)—A Toronto woman believed to have been one of the last Canadians to have survived the Armenian genocide died on Thursday, four months shy of her 105th birthday. Eugenie Papazian (Kokorian-Yerganian) passed away on January 14, 2020.
Papazian was born in Turkey, in the Ionia district of Samsun by the Black Sea in 1915. She never knew her parents. Her father was taken to the army in 1915 and did not return home, while her mother died when she was still a newborn. She had a large family: two sisters, Arousiag and Azniv, three brothers, as well as three maternal aunts and uncles, whom she has not met or seen.
At the start of the 1915 deportations, the members of her extended family gathered and found refuge in the mountains, and then descended into the gorge, where she was born. Seeing how frail her mother was, many advised and almost forced her to leave Eugenie there on the road, in order to avoid hard times. Naturally, her mother could not agree. Others argued against abandoning her, considering it a sin committed against God’s will. Due in part to her beauty and golden hair, they named her Voski (Gold). After Eugenie’s birth, her mother, exhausted, died in a place her daughter would never know.
Following her mother’s death, her maternal grandmother struggled to look after her for three years, and gave her to an orphanage when she was no longer able to feed her. So began her painful odyssey through three children’s homes in Greece, where an American relief organization had arranged the placement of Armenians in 13 orphanages.
An Armenian couple took Papazian to Egypt, and she spent her early teens in Cairo where she met her husband, Garabed Kokorian. She was 15-years-old when she married Garabed.
In 2019, Horizon Weekly special correspondent Sarine Poladian interviewed Eugenie Papazian and her son, Bedros Kokorian.
Eugenie Papazian had five children, nine grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.